Two Female Farmers In A Photo Collage

Celebrating women in agriculture, near and far

#WiththeseHands she gets the job done

A picture is worth a thousand words. Take a picture of a farmer’s hands, for example. A few words to describe them might be: strong, weathered, rough. Here’s another word: feminine.

That’s right, feminine.

Pop culture doesn’t normally shine a light on women in agriculture. But for every Old MacDonald who had a farm, there’s likely a Young Ms. MacDonald, too. Like their male counterparts, female farmers use their hands to work the land, tend to their animals, create business strategies, and navigate ag technology. Through their work, women in agriculture are helping to feed the soon-to-be 10 billion people on this planet, and eroding cultural stereotypes along the way. Women in agriculture should make us all think twice about what feminine hands really look like.

Dairy Foods joins the women’s equity conversation

As an U.S.-based farmer-owned cooperative that does business globally and supports international ag development, we know that people from all walks of life have important roles in feeding human progress. Women, who make up more than a quarter of America’s farmers and nearly half of the agricultural workforce worldwide, are working, leading and driving innovation of our world’s food production systems.

For this year’s International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, our Dairy Foods business is teaming up with Land O’Lakes International Development, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to share examples of inspiring, hardworking women in ag who are happy to get their hands dirty all in a day’s work. Using our farm-to-fork lens, we hope to help drive a conversation about women’s contributions to ag, here in the US and abroad, and maybe even break a stereotype or two.

To give you a sneak peek, here are two stories to look out for this March:

Kanni Mankaytkarasy

#WithTheseHands Kanni Mankaytkarasy helps produce 400 liters of coconut oil a day, volunteers at the local school and uses her extra income to support neighbors in need. Living in Jaffna, Sri Lanka’s northern province and the center of the nation’s 26 year long civil war that ended 2009, it was once difficult for Kanni to find work. Thanks to support from US Agency for International Development and Land O’Lakes International Development, Kanni is now enjoying a new career and new life through agriculture. Read more about Kanni’s story of perseverance here.

Marilyn Hershey

#WithTheseHands Marilyn Hershey runs an 800-cow dairy farm, writes books for pediatric cancer patients, and serves as the first female chair of Dairy Management, Inc. Land O’Lakes is proud to work with women like Marilyn who are making history through their hard work in agriculture.  Read more about Marilyn story of leadership here.

#WithTheseHands let’s give women in ag, like Kanni and Marilyn, social media high fives by sharing their inspiring stories. Look for #WithTheseHands on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and be sure to “like”, comment and share to help spread the word of these amazing women who are feeding the world and breaking down stereotypes in their field. Use the hashtags #PressforProgress and #Womenshistorymonth to join the larger conversation.